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- PublicationClimate Change and International Ethics(Routledge, 2020-06-03)Climate change is a complex collective action problem on a global and intergenerational scale. All sorts of otherwise unproblematic activities become morally questionable due to their contribution to the accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. All sorts of pre-existing vulnerabilities increase the danger that changes in climatic patterns result in humanitarian catastrophes. Climate change thus poses challenges for normative theory as such. There are ethical questions such as: How to balance the right to development and poverty reduction with our duties to reduce greenhouse gases for the sake of future generations? There are conceptual questions like: How are we to understand normatively significant responsibility in the context of complex collective action problems? There are questions relating to ethical guidelines in circumstances of risk and uncertainty. Finally, there is the question of to how to motivate people to do the right thing where there is so much distance in time and space between those incurring the costs of combatting climate change and those most benefitting from preventing it. This links to policy questions as to what kind of political institutions are realistic, legitimate, and efficient in providing climate protections. There are particular challenges which require us to reassess our approaches to ethics in international relations: How are we to deal with the situation that those who hold the most power and have the greatest capacities for realising an effective global climate policy have the least incentives to do so? How are we to assess the relevant normative concerns when they involve issues more complex than those enshrined in the minimal ethical consensus of formal human rights? In particular, what kind of normative framework is suitable to evaluate across cultural differences issues as distinct as raising energy prices, job losses, increased risks relating to extreme weather events, threats to cultural traditions (e.g. Inuit relying on a particular quality of snow and Americans used to going for a Sunday drive in a powerful car), and the loss of statehood for low lying Small Island States doomed by raising sea levels? This chapter will not attempt to answer any of these questions. Instead it will analyse the different strands of these interconnected questions and present an overview of the current approaches. To do so, the first section briefly presents the current understanding of climate science that forms the background of the debate and explains which features are deemed as normatively significant. The second section identifies the different (yet interconnected) angles of debates on justice in the context of climate change. The third section takes a look at the different theories of justice most prominent in influencing the current debates and their shortcomings. The forth section hones in on the particular role of international relations in the latest approaches to climate justice focusing on the need for discursive and relational approaches to justice. The final section concludes this chapter highlighting the importance of continued commitment to the values underlying human rights in the context of demands for mutual recognition and a better understanding of the global public sphere.
- PublicationDifferent Angles on Climate Justice: Insights from Non-Domination and Mutual Recognition(ARENA Centre for European Studies, 2018-01-10)Practitioners occasionally demure that the current academic literature on climate justice is overly abstract and unhelpful in their attempt to promote more effective and equitable climate policies. This paper analyses the claim that one reason for this might be that the debate is currently shaped by a particular narrow understanding of justice as impartiality and neglects other important approaches to justice. I first introduce my interpretation of Erik O. Eriksen's three conceptions of global political justice focusing on impartiality, non-domination, and mutual recognition. Then, I present the key concerns and positions that shape the debates on climate justice in the field of political theory and show why (and in how far) I think current climate justice is predominantly shaped by 'justice as impartiality'. I argue that this explains the emphasis on substantive justice over procedural questions. Furthermore, I show that looking at key questions in climate justice from the perspectives of theories emphasising non-domination and mutual recognition helps to identify some blind-spots in the current debate. Among the issues that are currently somewhat neglected are questions relating to the nature of the relationships of the relevant parties negotiating climate policy. This concerns on the one hand power inequalities and dependencies that shape the interactions between different parties. On the other hand, this relates to the question of how agents perceive these relationships with regard to dimensions of recognition, respect, and concern. It seems likely that less powerful agents have good reasons to feel that the global political regime as it currently works does not treat their interests and demands with the same urgency and importance as is shown for those of some more powerful players. Furthermore, their concerns regarding the normatively significant features of the situation at large are not always respected as equally valid contributions to the debate. I conclude by arguing that climate justice nonetheless cannot do without a rights-based framework typical for justice as impartiality that protects fundamental interests and the pre-conditions for free and equal participation.